Review: Garmin nüvi 40

Published: June 7, 2012 1:58 PM
By Fabien Pionneau
Translated by: Catherine Barraclough
As part of the firm's Essential range of sat navs, the Garmin nüvi 40 is aimed at drivers who want basic sat nav functions with no added bells and whistles. Plus, at around £100, it won't break the bank. Time to take it out for a spin.

Hardware: Basic But Sturdy3/5

In spite of its low price, the Garmin nüvi 40 has a bright 4.3-inch screen with good contrast levels, decent viewing angles and a matte finish. Anyone looking for a bigger screen can always opt for the slightly higher-end nüvi 50 which has a 5-inch screen and sells for about £10 more.

Garmin NUVI 40 TomTom GO LIVE 1005 - review

This sat nav has a fairly standard design with a hard black plastic casing. But while the nüvi 40 may not be the sleekest device out there, it still feels like a well-made product. Build and finish are good with just four screws visible at the rear.

The suction mount is a tried-and-tested Garmin classic. It's just a shame it's not a little less bulky, like the compact mounts used by TomTom. You're therefore likely to leave it stuck to the windscreen most of the time. Seeing as this is a budget GPS, the mount doesn't integrate a power connection for the sat nav unit. In other words, you'll have remember to plug the power cable into your car's cigarette lighter port and connect it to the back of the sat nav before you place it in the windscreen mount.

Garmin NUVI 40 Back - review

There's a Micro SD card slot on the left-hand edge of the device that can be used for adding maps. That said, our test model still had 1.6 GB of internal memory free.

The small speaker on the back of the GPS isn't amazing and soon saturates. However, the sound output is still decent and clear enough for you to understand prompts and directions with no problem at all.

Design and Build: Clear, Classic Interface3/5

A whole 16 seconds after pressing the 'On' button (there's no 'quick start' in this GPS!), the nüvi 40 displays its basic, quite traditional internal menu. The layout is clear and it's easy to find your way around. In our tests, the nüvi 40 connected to the GPS satellites quickly, taking less than a minute and sometimes just a few seconds if the device has been recently used.

Garmin NUVI 40 Menu 01 - review
Main menu
Garmin NUVI 40 Menu 02 - review Settings menu

While the nüvi 40 doesn't have the new interface rolled out to Garmin's Advance range of sat navs, it's still very easy to use. You do, however, have to enter your destination address bit by bit ('Where to' then 'Address' then 'City'), with the town or city, then the house number and street name entered separately. You can't search by entering all the destination info at once and there's no local search function either, as this GPS can't connect to the web. Volume settings can be reached in two steps, which is still OK. Note that the keyboard has no predictive text entry function.

A budget price tag doesn't always get you low-grade hardware. In fact, the nüvi 40 really doesn't disappoint on that front, as the internal interface is fast and responsive and the device calculates routes quickly.

Route Guidance: The Basics3/5

As an entry-level sat nav, the Garmin nüvi 40 is equipped with the bare minimum of route guidance tools, although it does offer spoken prompts and street names, as well as a lane-assist function. It also displays speed limit signs and junctions. However, there's no traffic info service and there are only two types of route to choose from—the shortest and the fastest. All of that is fine for getting you from A to B, but you'll have to put up with unforeseen events (traffic jams, etc.) that a higher-end model could help you avoid.

The sat nav voice is a little robotic and could sound more natural. All in all, though, it's clear and easy to understand.

Garmin NUVI 40 Menu 03 - review
'Where to?' menu
Garmin NUVI 40 Menu 06 - review Lane assist

The interface in navigation mode is clear and easy to follow, with your route shown in purple alongside your current speed, the next intersection and the remaining distance to it.

Extra Features: Minimal1/5

The Garmin nüvi 40 is a basic sat nav. There's therefore no Bluetooth and no pedestrian mode. The only extra function is an option to search for locations via geotagged photos (photo navigation).
3/5 Garmin nüvi 40 DigitalVersus 2012-06-07 14:58:00


  • Basic but clear interface
  • Good-quality 4.3-inch screen
  • Micro SD memory card port
  • Good basic navigation functions to get you from A to B


  • Suction mount is practical but a bit bulky, especially since there's no built-in power supply
  • Voice sounds a little robotic
  • Functionality is quite basic


The Garmin nüvi 40 doesn't do much, but it does it well. The interface, display and basic functions are all decent. In fact, it's largely sufficient for occasional users or anyone looking for a simple, no frills sat nav that does its job well but doesn't cost the earth.